Until recently, it was difficult to find a decent breakfast in Budapest, since most locals eat breakfast at home. Thanks to the influx of tourists, however, several restaurants have emerged where trendy interior designs and chic waitstaffs go hand in hand with a well-prepared plate of eggs Benedict. Or avocado toast, in case you were wondering.
In New York or London, this hip breakfast restaurant would be just another fashionable, industrial chic crowd-pleaser: the type of place where tattooed servers run around a sleek, wood-lined interior complete with vintage light bulbs and exposed galvanized steel pipes, and semi-alternative R&B tunes set the musical background. In Budapest, many places have tried to emulate this concept. But STIKA, this pocket-sized space in District 7, is the first to get it right. .
HILDA is one of the restaurants lining downtown's increasingly fashionable Nádor Street. The area has come to life as a growing number of tourists and international students from the nearby Central European University pass through. With a perfect curb appeal, you will notice HILDA's Instagrammable interior even before entering the space. An oversized stained glass mosaic covers one of the walls in its entirety, and the bar is studded with rows of dark blue, glazed Zsolnay ceramic tiles, the same brand that decorates the lobby of the Four Seasons around the corner from here.
Börze is a sleek downtown restaurant serving uncomplicated traditional Hungarian food from early morning until midnight, seven days a week. Börze's moniker is a hat-tip to the enormous, 1907 building across the street that used to be the Budapest Stock and Commodity Exchange. With red banquettes and a chic interior designed to the minute detail, Börze recalls a Keith McNally restaurant. .
Szimply is a tiny breakfast-all-day restaurant in the cobble-stoned courtyard of a pre-war downtown building. Thanks to The New York Times, which mentioned Szimply in an article (Budapest is #50), it's next to impossible to find an open table at this closet-sized breakfast nook. They specialize in on-trend, contemporary breakfast and brunch food, like the generously packed avocado toast topped with arugula, figs and goat cheese. Szimply also has 4 types of vegetable/fruit juices, but, unfortunately, they don't serve alcohol.
Curious where the top 1% of Buda residents hang out? Wonder no more. The owners of Déryné Bistro were ahead of the curve in 2007 when they opened this sleek bistro featuring a Balthazar-like interior straight out of the Keith McNally playbook. Back then, Déryné was a novelty in Budapest because this type of hip-but-classy restaurants didn't exist yet. .
À la Maison Grand is a chic downtown café in Budapest located on the ground floor of a 1906 art nouveau building (take a glance at the oversized glass mosaic perched atop the building). A fashionable, tourist-heavy crowd tends to flock here for the breakfast-all-day and brunch offerings that include reliably-prepared classics like croque madame (€5), Eggs Florentine (€7), and a range of waffles. I recommend that you avoid the "breakfast plates" in general, as I was let down by the undersized and forlorn-looking English (€10) and Hungarian breakfasts (€12). .
Opened almost 20 years ago, Két Szerecsen is a chic restaurant located between the stately Andrássy Avenue and the Jewish Quarter’s main artery, Király Street, occupying a precious piece of no man’s land. The bustling space is crammed with tables which receive plenty of natural light thanks to the oversized windows. .
For the longest time Budapest didn't used to have many places specialized in breakfast food, even though we all know what a difference a plate of well-prepared scrambled eggs can make to start your day off on the right foot. Part of this gaping void was filled in 2014 when Zoska opened. Zoska is a breakfast-all-day restaurants nestled in a quite downtown backstreet and featuring a shabby-chic interior. Their offerings include international breakfast staples spanning from cold plates to ham & eggs and bundás kenyér, a Hungarian version of the French toast.
Csendes Társ is an island of peace within the hustle and bustle of downtown Budapest. It's an outdoor-only café set along the charming Károlyi Garden, a private-yard-turned-public-park boasting colorful flower beds and a manicured lawn. Csendes Társ is best enjoyed for a late breakfast (it opens at 10 a.m.) or for drinks in the evening when the neighborhood quiets down and the space feels most intimate. .
Escape the noisy downtown street and enter through the yellow ceramic tiles into the 19th century courtyard of Fekete Café. The marble well located in the center of the tranquil courtyard is one of those turn-of-the-20th-century Budapest surprises that hide behind many sooty facades. Weather permitting, enjoy your morning coffee in the open air courtyard..
Sarki Fűszeres is a tiny café located on a quiet corner of Újlipótváros, one of Budapest's unique neighborhoods. Situated along the upscale Pozsonyi Road on the ground floor of a 1940s modernist building, Sarki Fűszeres is best for coffee or breakfast during the warm weather months. That's when the charming outdoor tables are canopied over with greenery. Their breakfast offerings include croissants, ham & eggs, English breakfast, and meat and cheese platters.
Fruccola was one of the pioneers behind the healthy food and salad-for-lunch movement in Budapest in the late-aughts. Their timing was perfect, and diners' enthusiasm hasn't waned since. Besides salads, smoothies, and fresh juices, Fruccola also makes excellent breakfast omelets, which come with salmon or spinach & goat cheese. On weekdays, they serve an ever-changing two course lunch prix fixe heavy on vegetables, but they usually aren't strictly vegetarian.
Három Tarka Macska (“Three calico cats”) is an artisan bakery located on the tastefully upscale Pozsonyi Road in Újlipótváros, sometimes referred to as the “West Village of Budapest.” The place is a paradise of aromatic and often still steaming sourdough, whole wheat, and rye breads, brioches, and rolls that come in all shapes and sizes while bakers scurry around behind the glass partition. Butter croissants and two must-try local favorites, túrós batyu (a sweet cottage cheese filled laminated pastry) and kakaós csiga (a snail-shaped chocolate pastry roll) are also available, which go down especially well with flavored yogurts that at Három Tarka Macska are sourced from a local family-owned producer. .
TÁBLA is a small breakfast-only restaurant located in Budapest's trendy Jewish quarter. It's one of the two restaurants run by chef Gábor Fehér, a local young gun (the other, next door to TÁBLA, is ESCA, a fine dining studio restaurant). The designed space features white brick walls, sleek wooden tables, and the type of couch often found in the lobbies of boutique hotels. The highlight of the interior is the floor-to-ceiling window, which swings open in the summertime..
Liberté is a chic breakfast restaurant located in an elite section of Budapest's downtown peppered with banks and near the Parliament building. The expensive interior design complete with Mid-century modern furniture marries a high-end American diner and a French bistro. No doubt with an intent to draw in tourists, the menu at Liberté includes on-trend international breakfast dishes along with Hungarian classics, meaning that you could very well pair a Hungarian goulash soup with an avocado toast or a tonkatsu sandwich. Unfortunately, however, some of the plates fall short.
Don't be confused by the name of this cute little café: this isn't Szimpla Kert, the world-famous ruin bar (that's a few doors down from here, across the street, run by the same owners). Szimpla Háztáji is an organic café serving breakfast all day, fruit juices, and home-made syrups. The mantra is fresh-fresh-fresh - all ingredients come from local farmers whose produce can also be found in Szimpla Kert's farmer's market on Sunday mornings. Accordingly, the interior has a shabby-chic look complete with reclaimed, rustic furniture.
Although Budapest Baristas is primarily a specialty café, it’s their breakfast-all-day offerings that makes a visit here worthwhile. Bagels rarely appear on Budapest menus, so I automatically go for them when they do. After all, who doesn’t like to bite through a warm cream cheese bagel sporting a dense and chewy interior? .